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Jan Both
Nationality: 
dutch
Gender: 
Male
Birth Date: 
1615
Birth Place: 
Utrecht
Death Date: 
1652
Death Place: 
Utrecht
A masterful painter, draughtsman and etcher, Jan Both was one of the most talented members of the second wave of Dutch painters who specialized in Italianate landscapes. His father Dirck Both (?-1664), a glass painter specializing in painting coats of arms on windows, was his first instructor. According to a biography by the 17th-century artist and writer Joachim von Sandrart (1606-1688), Both studied with Abraham Bloemart (1566-1651) along with his older brother Andries Dirksz. Both (1611/12-1641), but some modern scholars doubt this account. Sometime in the 1630s Jan left Utrecht to join Andries in Rome and is recorded as being there in 1638, having travelled by way of France. In Rome Jan and Andries became associated with the followers of the Dutch painter Pieter van Laer (1599-ca. 1642), creating peasant genre scenes in van Laer’s style. They were also influenced by the landscapes of French painter Claude Lorrain (1604-1682), who was also then working in Rome. It seems likely that Andries painted the animal and human figures (known as “staffage”) in some of Jan’s landscape paintings made during this period. That Jan was held in high regard as a landscape painter is demonstrated by his receipt of a commission in 1639 for four landscape paintings for the decoration of the Buen Retiro, the country estate being built for King Philip IV of Spain (1605-1665) near Madrid; the paintings are now in the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Other painters receiving commissions for the same project included Claude Lorrain and Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665). The two Both brothers left Rome for Utrecht in 1641, but Andries drowned in Venice during the trip. Jan returned to Utrecht, where he lived for the rest of his short life. He abandoned peasant genre scenes and concentrated on Italianate landscapes, with such artists as Jan Baptist Weenix (1621-1660/61) and Cornelis van Poelenburch (1594/95-1667) contributing the staffage. Of the approximately 350 paintings attributed to Both in Hofstede de Groot’s catalog raisonné, 165 survived and were located by Burke for his 1976 dissertation, and of those he thought the attributions to Both were doubtful as to forty-two. Few of Both’s works are dated and establishing a chronology for his paintings is problematic. He had a strong influence on later Dutch landscape painters, particularly Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691). A large number of drawings have been attributed to Both, but his work was widely copied and imitated, and scholars now attribute about forty drawings to him. He produced seventeen etchings, including two sets of landscapes and a series on the five senses after drawings and paintings by his brother Andries. After his return to Utrecht he was elected as one of the directors of the Utrecht Guild of St. Luke, the painters guild. He was buried in Utrecht’s Buurkerk on August 9, 1652. (TNB 7/2011) Selected bibliography: Burke, James Donald. Jan Both, paintings, drawings, and prints. Dissertation. New York: Garland Publishing, 1976. Duparc, Frederik J. Golden: Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection. Exhibition catalog, pp. 96-99. Salem: Peabody Essex Museum, 2011. Schatborn, Peter. Drawn to Warmth. 17th century Dutch Draughtsmen in Italy. With an essay by Judith Verberne. Exhibition catalog, pp. 88-99. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2001. Sutton, Peter C., Masters of 17th-century Dutch Landscape Painting. Exhibition catalog, pp. 277-281. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1987. Trezzani, Ludovica. “Jan Both,” in Jane Turner, ed. The Grove Dictionary of Art. From Rembrandt to Vermeer; 17th Century Dutch Artists, pp. 46-50. New York: St. Martin Press, 2000.